HVAC Training Schools & Certification in Ohio

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In the Buckeye State, there is a wealth of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC/R) professionals, as well as a thriving tradition of energy conservation among citizens. For instance, Cleveland’s ABC News affiliate reports that two major Ohio (OH) companies—Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream and Great Lakes Brewing—make many of their business decisions based on how to promote sustainability. At Mitchell’s ice cream kitchen, all rainwater is collected and reused while hot water is heated using energy lost from their freezers.

In addition to energy-conscious citizens, Ohio boasts a number of professional trade associations to support workers in the HVAC industry. For example, the Air Conditioning Contractors of Ohio (ACCO) represents firms throughout the state who install, repair, and perform maintenance on HVAC systems. Boasting over 200 members, this not-for-profit organization hosts conferences, provides worker advocacy, and assists people in the industry with networking.

Furthermore, the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors (PHCC) of Ohio is another exemplary organization, which has been in operation for more than 125 years. It has a political action committee (PAC) to protect HVAC professionals against unnecessary regulation, overbearing legislation, and more. In sum, there’s no shortage of resources available for HVAC workers in the state.

Professionals in this industry take on a number of varied tasks. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) offered a breakdown of some common job responsibilities in the HVAC industry, which include installing and maintaining HVAC systems; troubleshooting and repairing machine components (e.g., wiring, piping, motors, ducts, drains, intake valves, fans, humidifiers, unit controls, hot water boilers, hermetic compressors, economizers); providing recommendations on improving system performance or energy efficiency; calculating heat loads and losses; and keeping up-to-date with certifications or licensure. While permits are not required for general HVAC technicians, commercial HVAC contractors in the state must seek licensure from the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board (OCILB).

This guide serves to give Ohio residents a snapshot of what to expect from entering a career in HVAC. Read on to discover the bright occupational outlook, salary prospects, training schools, and contractor licensing for HVAC workers in OH.

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Demand for HVAC Workers in Ohio (OH)

For aspiring HVAC technicians, mechanics, and installers in Ohio and beyond, the employment prospects look bright. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2020) expects that there will be a 13 percent increase in job openings in this field between 2018 and 2028, significantly more robust than the average growth expected across all occupations during that time period (5 percent). And the prospects may be even brighter in Ohio.

As proof of point, Projections Central (2020) projected a 15 percent increase in HVAC positions within Ohio. With the expected addition of 1,770 fresh jobs in coming years, the HVAC industry is expected to thrive into the future.

One of the main benefits of pursuing a career in HVAC is the relatively high salary for a career typically requiring only one to two years of postsecondary education. It is important to note that receiving the proper training is essential, especially since HVAC workers incur a relatively high rate of injury as compared with other occupations. This is due to the physical nature of the work, which can expose these professionals to electrical shock, muscle strains, burns, and other problems. That said, with the proper training and safety equipment, these maladies can generally be kept to a minimum.

The BLS (2019) noted that approximately one in ten HVAC workers nationwide are self-employed and have the ability to make their own schedules. While some HVAC technicians work normal business hours, others may be called upon to work evenings, weekends, or holidays, particularly during the busier summer and winter seasons.

As stated above, there is no shortage of opportunities in this industry, particularly in Ohio. In fact, Indeed (2020) listed 595 openings in HVAC work in the Buckeye State, including positions at Boiler Specialists, Inc., Aire-Flo Industries, Perfection Group, Inc., ElitAire, inc., and Hikma Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. At the same time, Monster (2020) lists an additional 326 jobs at organizations like Building Integrated Services, Summers Plumbing Heating and Cooling, Integrity Technical Services, and Novolex.

HVAC Salaries in Ohio (OH)

Nationwide and in Ohio, HVAC workers earn relatively generous salaries compared to occupations with similar educational attainment. By illustration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2019) reported that there were 342,040 HVAC workers around the country with an average annual salary of $51,420. In Ohio, average salaries were a bit lower, with the 12,100 HVAC workers employed in the state earning an average of $48,350 per year. Following is a more detailed breakdown of the comparison between OH salaries and those of the rest of the country.

United States Ohio
Number of HVAC professionals employed 342,040 12,100
Average annual salary $51,420 $48,350
10th percentile $30,610 $29,600
25th percentile $37,660 $36,200
50th percentile (median) $48,730 $47,270
75th percentile $62,070 $59,510
90th percentile $77,920 $70,150

 

As noted above, the average salary for HVAC workers in Ohio is a bit lower than that of the rest of the nation. As with any salary projections, taking into account the cost of living is also important. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2019) ranked Ohio 16th in terms of affordability, making the cost of living lower than average. Ohio residents can expect to find, in particular, big savings when it comes to the cost of housing. For HVAC technicians this means that even a lower than average salary will go further in Ohio than it would in many other states.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Ohio (OH)

Prior to seeking employment as an HVAC technician, mechanic or installer in OH, it’s important to get training to adequately prepare for the job. Some Ohio residents choose to enroll in apprenticeship programs, which include 2,000 or more hours of on-the-job training under the guidance of an experienced professional; others choose to seek out an HVAC program at a trade school or university.

When considering any training option, it’s important to verify that it has received proper accreditation. In the HVAC field, there are two main entities which approve schools and college programs: HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). Ohio has the distinction of having one school with both types of accreditation, as well as seven additional PAHRA-accredited programs.

The University of Northwestern Ohio offers an 88-credit associate of applied science (AAS) in HVAC technology and a 61-credit diploma program that prepares graduates to become a heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration technician. These rigorous programs boast small class sizes, various campus clubs, and a curriculum which is 70 percent hands-on training.

Classes include applications of refrigeration and temperature controls; air conditioning systems and controls; service and procedures; air conditioning systems and controls; electronics; heat pump systems and controls; and more. This is one of the rare HVAC training programs with an earned accreditation from both HVAC excellence and PAHRA.

  • Location: Lima, Ohio
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence, PAHRA
  • Duration: 20 months (AAS); 16 months (diploma)
  • Tuition: $23,800 for the program (AAS), $17,640 for the program (Diploma)

The Cuyahoga Valley Career Center offers a 200-hour heating, ventilation, and air conditioning program industrial training program. Students enrolled in the course take courses including HVAC basic, HVAC heating, HVAC cooling, and basic electrical.

Offered two days per week at night, this course prepares graduates to sit for the EPA Section 608 certification and the NATE heating and cooling support technician certificate. Ohio residents who are 22 years or older who did not earn a high school diploma can earn a high school diploma upon completion of this program at no extra cost.

  • Location: Brecksville, Ohio
  • Accreditation: PAHRA
  • Duration: Up to two years
  • Tuition: $4,062 for the program (including textbooks and exam fees)

The Miami Valley Career Technology Center provides a 720-hour HVAC/R technician training program for adult learners. Coursework is offered three days per week at night. Students learn blueprint reading, sheet metal fabrication, solder and brazing, load calculations, and HVAC problem diagnosis.

Additionally, the program prepares students to sit for the EPA section 608 and National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) certifications. Miami Valley boasts an 86 percent employment rate for graduates.

  • Location: Clayton, Ohio
  • Accreditation: PAHRA
  • Duration: 54 weeks
  • Tuition: $11,360

The Great Oaks Institute of Technology offers a 900-hour (45-week) night program with multi-pronged training in the field. This program is designed to prepare students for various competency-based certifications such as those from the National Center for Construction Education and Research, ICE (administered by NATE), and the EPA. Coursework includes training in concepts of electricity; installing and troubleshooting heating systems; servicing and repairing refrigeration equipment; indoor air quality; and more. Students from Great Oaks have gone on to qualify for the Associated Builders and Contractors Apprenticeship Program.

  • Location: Cincinnati and Milford, Ohio
  • Accreditation: PAHRA
  • Duration: 45 weeks
  • Tuition: $11,126 for the program (including books, tools, and supplies)

Accredited HVAC Trade Programs for High School Students in Ohio (OH)

The following are PAHRA-accredited programs specifically designed to give high school students in Ohio the career readiness skills they need to become HVAC technicians right after high school graduation.

The Pike County Career Tech Center offers a two-year technical program with training in gas and electric heating; the refrigeration cycle; brazing and soldering; basic electricity; air conditioning and troubleshooting skills. Additionally, students are prepared to take the EPA 608 certification (discussed below) and the HVAC Excellence HEAT exam as well.

North High School, one of the College and Career Academies of Akron, offers a heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning technology career pathway for 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students. In this program, high school students learn HVAC principles and sheet metal and fabrication.

The RG Drage Career Center offers high school students the opportunity to earn HVAC skills in the classroom and in the real world through organizations like Habitat for Humanity. Students enrolled in this program learn blueprint reading, refrigeration installation, control systems, troubleshooting, and HVAC system repair.

For some prospective HVAC workers residing in more rural regions or for those with time commitments which make attending an on-campus program difficult, there are various distance-based programs available. To learn about these training options, check out the online HVAC schools page.

Ohio HVAC Licensure & Certification

For Ohio residents interested in careers in HVAC, it’s important to have proper credentialing prior to seeking employment. There is one mandatory certification for all professionals who work with refrigerants: the EPA Section 608 certification. Due to the environmentally harmful nature of the chemicals used in refrigeration, it’s essential to have the proper training in their proper use and disposal. There are four categories of this certification: type I (small appliances), type II (high-pressure refrigerants), type III (low-pressure refrigerants), and type IV (universal).

There are also various national organizations which test HVAC workers and provide skill-based credentialing as well. These include the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES), North American Technician Excellence (NATE), and HVAC Excellence. To learn in depth about the options available from these entities, please check out the HVAC certifications page.

While no state license is required for general technicians in Ohio, those seeking to become commercial contractors must seek licensure through the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board (OCILB). In order to qualify for an HVAC contractors license in Ohio, candidates must be at least 18 years of age and submit the following:

  • Proof of at least five years of experience as a tradesperson under a licensed contractor in the field (including a copy of at least one permit from a project), or be a registered engineer with at least three years of business experience working in HVAC
  • Passing score on the OCI Examining Board’s test
  • Background check
  • Proof of having at least $500,000 in contractor liability insurance
  • Application fee ($25)

To maintain these licenses, contractors must complete ten hours of continuing education annually. Lastly, Ohio boasts licensing reciprocity in HVAC with four states: Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee, and South Carolina. Therefore, people with credentials from these states will find it relatively easy to pursue HVAC work in Ohio, and vice versa for OH HVAC contractors seeking work in those states.

Because licensure requirements can vary by municipality, HVAC professionals in Ohio should ensure that they are operating within the requirements of the state as well as the city where they work. It is the job of any HVAC technician to verify licensure requirements and keep their credentialing up to date.

Becca Brewer

Becca Brewer is building a better future on a thriving earth by fostering healing, human wholeness, and next-world building through storytelling help, one-on-one self-awareness workshops, and customized team-alignment sessions. She offers these services at a rate of $0.00 to anyone interested (contact her at rkbrewer@gmail.com for more information). Previously to her journey as an adventurer for a just, meaningful, and regenerative world, Becca was a formally trained sexuality educator with a master of education.